Reap reading’s benefits

By Mina Radman • Published: November 4th, 2016
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Book lovers, rejoice! Science suggests you may live longer. Yale University researchers recently found people who read books may live two years longer than those who don’t. The researchers aren’t sure why or how, but it’s not the first time science has found reading is associated with good health.

Reading can relieve stress, help you sleep, boost brainpower and increase attention span. Six minutes of reading per day reduces stress by 68 percent, according to a 2009 study from the University of Sussex. When engrossed in a book, people use their imaginations to escape the worries of everyday life, which relieves muscle tension.

Reading in bed also helps you sleep by signaling your body that it is time to shut down for the night, according to the Mayo Clinic. Light emitted from cell phones and other devices strains your eyes and tricks your brain into staying awake, while a book’s pages allow your brain to relax.

Regularly opening a book boosts brainpower by improving memory and increasing connectivity. People who engage in mentally stimulating activities such as reading keep the brain sharper longer and may delay mental decline, according to an Emory University study. Reading is like a workout for your brain: The more you do it, the stronger your brain becomes.

In a world of distractions, reading keeps you focused. Turning pages in a book increases attention span by training the brain to remain focused on a sequence of events — a beginning, middle and end.

So, the next time you have a free afternoon, curl up in a comfortable chair, reach for a book and reward yourself with reading: A habit that’s good for your health.